Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reconnoitering Wolf - Yellowstone Reflections

Wolf reconnoitering a pond in Yellowstone National Park.
On our second day in Yellowstone, we saw our second wolf. After stopping at Lake Butte Overlook to check out a story about the islands of Yellowstone Lake, we continued on our merry, chatty way when suddenly a wolf appeared on the side of the road.

It was loping along at a good pace, crossed the road, and as I popped out of the car, it headed down a ravine.

Yellowstone wolf looking before crossing.

I waited for it to reappear on the other side of the ravine, at the foot or top of the adjacent hill, or as a passing blur in the forest, but no matter where I looked, nothing. No wolf. I went back along the road to check for tracks from those huge paws, but still nothing. Was it really moving so fast that I completely missed it cresting the hill?

Wolf crossing a road in Yellowstone National Park
Then I heard a whispering sound and looked down to see the wolf trotting along the bottom of the slope below me. It wasn't close but still I could see the wolf closing its eyes as the blades of grass brushed its face.

Look at the size of the paws on this wolf which are all airborne as it heads for a ravine on the side of the road.
The wolf travelled approximately 240 degrees around a pond, looking but not stopping much. Then it peeled off through the surrounding grasslands and disappeared into a clump of taller vegetation.  A disappearing act that would repeat itself in the next few days.

Wolf blinking as it passes through grasses around a pond in Yellowstone National Park.
Later I read that wolves will often travel a circuit in their territory, checking wildlife trails and feeding spots to assess any change in the health or wariness of prey animals that might provide an advantage to the pack if they returned on a hunting endeavor.

Wolf checking the perimeter of a pond in Yellowstone.
The whole time I watched the wolf cross the road and reconnoiter the pond, I got the impression that my presence was completely irrelevant.

 . . . and then continuing on its way.
This is part of a series of posts on wildlife observed in Yellowstone National Park in September 2012. To see more posts, select "Yellowstone" in the Sightings box in the right column.


  1. Makes a lot of sense. Patrol around, see what's up. Planning. =) Pretty COOL! Nice job capturing that action. Thanks SO much for sharing. =)

  2. Learning so much through your experiences...thanks for the series!

  3. Back again to enjoy your YNP reflections... We'll be there in a week - our first visit - and your stories make me more excited!


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